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Relative Ways video treatment

The main theme is man’s mysterious origin. A secondary theme is the creation of the universe and the rise of civilization. A third visual theme of the video will be of things turning, spiraling circling. The video will be arranged into segments corresponding to the different parts of the song.

Part zero, the shot before the song begins, would be a shot of placid water, still, peaceful and grey, possibly stretching out to the horizon.

The subject of the first 3/4 section is the earth forming. As the dramatic opening chords of the song begin, we cut to shots of volcanic explosions and flowing lava in time with the cadence. The footage will be treated to be highly saturated, with psychedelic hues, possibly even further distorted to enhance its weirdness. One reference for this could be the Toccata and Fugue segment of Fantasia, where colored silhouettes suggested the orchestra, conductor, and columns of falling water. Another reference could be the shots of the orcs in the original Lord of the Rings animated film, where they animated live footage to create an eerie other-worldliness. Along with this, flashing images of the band will appear in the lit areas of the explosion, performing. The performance will have to be shot on blue screen.

The subject of the first verse is life growing. The verse kicks in after the fifth bar, time signature changes from 3/4 to 4/4, scene changes from volcanic explosions to growing foliage. We’re thinking that time-lapse footage of plants growing very quickly, but layered in transparency one atop the other up to twenty layers – to create the illusion of a dense primordial forest growing vines, seed pods splitting open, fern leaves curling open. Use Henri Rousseau’s artwork as a reference for dense, jungle-like foliage. Again, this would be treated so as to look partially animated (this look ought to probably look somewhat uniform throughout the video). Upon this would be superimposed quick, strobe-like, almost subliminal flashes of the band playing, treated in such away as to be distorted, psychedelic, perhaps corrupted, as well as images representational of creation myths of different civilizations – Ygdrassil, the Nordic ash tree of life, celestial maps of the universe, and the Mayan calendar. These quick flashes will continue throughout the entire video, just as the quick shots of San Chapel and Carpeax’s Dance were interspersed throughout Another Morning Stoner. Though seemingly random, they ought to actually follow the theme of man’s mysterious origin, mystery being the key word here things such as the Nazca lines, the Piri Reis map, the pyramids. An excellent reference source for compiling these would be Graham Hancock’s book Fingerprints of the Gods (Crown Trade Paperbacks, 1995).

The second three-four section will flash with images of great catastrophe, possibly as represented in Biblical passages earthquakes, floods, storms of immense proportions. These could be super-imposed with shots of waves crashing against rocks, all in time with the cadence, along with further quick flashes of the band playing and references to mythology.

The subject of the second verse is agriculture, as man tames (or attempts to tame) his environment. Shots of farms, cultivated hills, men and oxen pulling ploughs, windmills, rows of corn, amber waves of grain, etc.
(continue adding flashes of band and myth).

The subject of the third 3/4 section is the turn of the century industrial revolution shots of molten iron being poured into molds, sparks flying as a hammer slams onto an anvil, red hot coals being struck with clamps, factory chimneys belching black smoke into smoggy skies, in time with the music.

This brings us to the first chorus. As the chorus begins the mood changes drastically to shots of falling leaves, layer after layer, evoking a peaceful feeling reflective of this part in the song, as if walking through an ugly city you are suddenly transported to a peaceful autumnal park. The mood soothes you visually, as the lyrics reassure you “It’s o.k.” The colors are oranges, reds, browns, like autumn, the same mood and colors shown on the album cover. The camera pans slowly to the right as strange and extremely random objects pass through this orange blizzard of leaves – a man in a bowler hat riding a tall Victorian bicycle (the type with the large front wheel), gears, grand-father clocks, pendulums, etc things with wheel themes, numbers and arithmetic equations, technical drawings, old nautical maps, compasses. The reference for this ought to be the sequence in Fritz the Cat when they play a Billy Holiday song (Golden Days?), and shots of indiscernible still life passes slowly from right to left, made obscure by being doubled. As the chorus builds near the end to go into the next verse, the camera would suddenly pan back with the same effect of looking at a man sitting on a park bench then zooming out until you’re staring at the Earth from outer space, except that you’re zooming out past the orange blizzard until you are staring at the cover of the record (without the logo). At first it appears to be a still shot, but before the shot cuts, the girl moves slightly bats her eye, turns her chin.

This next part is reliant upon budget and logistics.

The third verse cuts then to a shot of the band playing set up in front of the sacrificial alter in the Temple of the Warriors at Chichen Itza, Mexico (or some such similar Pre-Columbian ruin). This would require shooting live on location. Contrast will be high, colors will be saturated (or perhaps subdued). Include a couple close ups of members playing, singing, etc. It might be good to shoot us wearing bright colors blues, greens, reds.

The fourth 3/4 section could be a bit more playful of us playing around the ruins, etc. Possibly just throw in whatever interesting or amusing shot we happen to capture while hanging around the Yucatan on a three-day vacation.

The fourth verse will return to us playing live (either the same location, or at different ones), only this time the shots will be tighter focusing on individual members. Hand held cameras would probably have to walk in and out of us performing the song, possibly more than once.

The fifth 3/4 section would feature close up portraits of each band member, four portraits corresponding to the four bars of this section, each one appearing on the beat. Reference for this could be the part of Strawberry Fields Forever, where they feature each of the Beatles faces one by one, each one individualized by color and expression. Superimposed on each of our faces will be a different representation of one of the four alchemic elements earth, water, fire and air. These could be taken from previous shots in the video the lava for fire, the foliage for the earth, the waves breaking for water, and a storm for the air.

For the second and final chorus we want to give the impression of a great wheel. This wheel would represent all of man’s aspirations: the wheel of Life. This could be compiled from a large number of sources – a Buddhist mandala sand painting, the Mayan calendar wheel, a snake chasing its tail, a celestial map of the heavens and its constellations, the inner mechanisms of a clock, Copernicus’ model of the solar system, a nautical compass, etc. The wheel will be turning, slowly at first. Some elements of the wheel could spin in one direction as other elements spin in the opposite one; some could turn steadily, and others could turn in sections, like a clock ticking, but in time with the music. A reference for this could be the basic-looking computer animation of gears and sundials used by PBS and KLRU in their little channel announcements. Another reference could be the representation of the sun god Frith in the animated movie Watership Down. In the center of the wheel is a circular area of negative space. In this negative space will flash more images of the band playing, singing, and further references to various origin mysteries.

As the music intensifies into the climax the great wheel begins to spin faster. By the end of the climax the wheel is spinning so fast that it begins to blur into white light. The light is also pulsing in beat with the music creating a strobe effect.

The sixth and final 3/4 section is twice as long as the others. As it comes in we cut once again back to a shot of the band in front of the ruins performing the last bars of the song. This will last for the first half of this section (four bars). On the fifth bar of the section, we will begin to reverse film rapidly, playing the entire video backwards, from end to beginning, lasting the remaining four bars. In other words, play the entire three minutes of video backwards in the space of ten seconds or at least give this impression somehow. The final chord of the song will end on the same shot as the beginning, a shot of placid water stretching out to the horizon

article by James Olsen and Conrad Keely
the full video is available to view at YouTube